Feed on

Open House

Most people dread house or apartment hunting. I, on the other hand, love it. I adore looking through the want-ads in the paper, trying to find places that meet our criteria of must-haves. Hardwood floors. Pets okay. New kitchen appliances. Balcony. Under $500.00/mo. Onsite laundry facilities. Off-street parking. Obviously this is just a big wish list, as most places won’t have all of the above, but it is always nice to find a close match. Our current place has all of the above except for off-street parking. And a bonus—there is a fireplace. We never use the fireplace, but it looks darned cool, with its Art-Deco grate and wide mantel.

As you might guess, I am darned happy with the apartment and am not looking to move any time soon. It is a neat place, lots of room, economical, handy to work, good sunlight for my plants, I have my sewing room. It is very comfortable.

Nonetheless, I love looking at apartments, houses, lofts, etc. The nature of my job means that I know when all the new apartments and lofts are completed, and when all the major renovation projects have been finished, so I attend more open-houses than is normal for someone who is not in the real-estate business or actively looking for a new place to live. Sometimes I go out of curiosity. Is this new place as hot-shot as it has been described in the local press (Library Lofts, and in a word, NO). Sometimes I go because I have watched the project progress from nothing but holes in the ground to a fine place to live (Union Hill Townhouses off 28th & Walnut.) It is gratifying to see the finished product, especially from the vantage point of being the person who scheduled the bulk of the code inspections along the way. Similarly, I love going to check out the culmination of major restoration/renovation projects in historic buildings. They truly don’t build them like they used to, and so many of the older apartment buildings in this city have a kind of class and character that not even the most posh of the new townhouses and condos can even hope to imitate.

I visited a restoration project yesterday when they were having an open-house. I was the only one in at the time, so the landlord let me poke about at my leisure. I can’t express how lovely this apartment was. The building was between the ages of our previous apartment (built in 1938) and our current place (circa 1910). The landlord reckoned it was build mid-to-late 1920s, and it had been provided with all the modern amenities! Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen with loads of built in cupboards and a reach-through milk door (the outside hatch being out in the hallway) There was a little niche in the wall between the living room and the kitchen were the phone had been, back in the day, and there was still a phone jack there, if you wanted to have your phone there. Lots of closets, the honeycomb tile in the bathrooms was still intact, new shower-stall in the little bathroom, and a reconditioned claw-foot tub in the big bathroom, which also had a HUGE medicine cabinet. I thought the cabinet in the bathroom of our current apartment was big (the better to store lots of bath stuff and body glitter and extra TP and Kotex, and whatever else!) but this one took the record. The hardwood floors were completely refinished (or possibly new) and everything had been repainted in tasteful, light, unobtrusive shades. Even the hallway of the apartment building was pretty, with the walls painted a deep slate grey, and trimmed with grey-white-and-burgundy wallpaper set into wood-trimmed insets in the walls. The carpets were burgundy with black and grey feather patterns. The banister was, I think, mahogany, and the spindles below the handrail were painted white with burgundy lines on the inside edge of the spindles.

To live in such splendor (2BR, 2BA, WSH/DR, New Appl., HDWD, Balcony. Great location. $1050.00/mo)


Then again, it is twice the amount of apartment as what I live in, and totally restored, with lots of cool features. I think the asking price is fair. Much more reasonable than the 1-BR 1-BA I looked at in the Library Lofts complex. This place was infinitesimal. It was like ½ of the floorspace of my current flat, if that, and it wasn’t even pretty. The floor looked like it had been scraped off with a front end loader. It was patches of bare concrete and scarred, stained hardwood. The bathroom had fresh, if unremarkable tiles, and the kitchen had nice, new cupboards and countertops, but otherwise the amenities were far from impressive. You entered by the front door, and you entered into the kitchen. There was no divider between the kitchen and the living/dining room. The dining/living room was maybe 14’ x 12’, and the bedroom was probably 8’ x 10’. There was a bathroom you practically had to back into with your pants down, and two small closets. For this, the prospective tenant was expected to front the princely sum of $675/mo. Now if downtown offered a glamorous or convenient lifestyle, this level of rent might be reasonable, but right now Downtown offers little attraction. If you worked downtown, it would be convenient, but only in regard to commuting. You would have to trek to another part of town to do your grocery shopping, go to the hardware store, buy a pair of pants, or rent a video. As to glamor, downtown Kansas City, MO is definitely not ritzy. The posh part of KCMO is the Plaza for shops and the Brookside neighborhood for residential areas. Downtown, as yet, is a dirt-dull commercial/financial district with a burgeoning pretentious, artsy element.

I don’t see myself moving out of the comfortable, centrally-located, economical, and eclectic Hyde Park area any time soon.

Leave a Reply